- Approximate Mileage: 120
- Approximate Drive Time: 3 hours
This tour has a little something for everyone. Spectacular scenery, blue waters, ghost towns, golf, wildlife, antiques and of course, lots of the Old West.
This tour begins in Anaconda where the water was important for smelting the ore from nearby mines in Butte. Anaconda's "Old Works" was once a huge copper smelting operation. The remaining 58-story "Stack" is visible for miles around. Nearby the Old Works Golf Course designed by Jack Nicklaus is a popular attraction. Tour the historic district downtown.
Next, take Highway 1 west to Georgetown Lake. This recreation area is great for swimming, boating, fishing or just watching wildlife. From the lake, Highway 1 turns north and descends to follow Flint Creek.
You'll soon come to Philipsburg, a friendly town with a National Historic District that has been beautifully restored. Stop in at the local sapphire shop to try your hand at finding sapphires in gravel concentrate. Southwest of Philipsburg, gems are mined in the Rock Creek drainage. With the largest concentration of sapphires in Southwest Montana, Gem Mountain shines in the Pintler Scenic Range.
There are also more than 20 ghost towns in the Philipsburg area, but one of the most interesting is Granite. One of the best ghost mining camps in the state, it was the richest silver mine on earth at one time. Check for road conditions before seeking it out, however.
As you continue your journey towards Drummond, watch for hawks that frequent the area. For a side trip, head west to the Bearmouth Recreation Area that serves as an entrance to the Garnet ghost town. To continue on the tour, head east on I-90 to Deer Lodge. The Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historical Site at the north end of town is a working cattle ranch demonstrating cowboy life in the 1800s.
Leave plenty of time for your visit to Deer Lodge, where there are a number of interesting museum collections including the Old Montana Prison and Law Enforcement Museum, the Montana Auto Museum, the Frontier Montana Museum, Powell County Museum and Yesterday's Playthings. After leaving Deer Lodge, you may want to pause on your way back to Anaconda at Warm Springs Ponds where there is a picnic area off exit 171.